Continuing Tales

The Way Forward

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 4 of 5

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The Way Forward

Jay walked through the stacks of the Bristol University Library, searching for the dark corner Sarah had hidden herself in this time, hidden herself and then somehow lost track of the hours. She was supposed to have met him over an hour ago, they had dinner plans and he'd thought of treating her to the cinemas.

He cracked his neck as he cast his eyes into every studying nook he passed, letting his hand slide over the bookshelves. The usual one and a half hour drive from Exeter, where he was completing his second masters, this time in Computer Science, had taken double the time due to an alarming amount of traffic accidents. The rain had been heavy and the drive had been hard. But he had come through, only to be profoundly disappointed when Ruby told him Sarah had not returned from the library. Jay wondered what kind of night he was really in for as he rounded a corner and spotted her.

She had fallen asleep. Jay tried to shake the indulgent smile from his lips as he silently sat in the chair next to her, watching her steady breathing, her eyelids flickering as she dreamed, a small smile on her face. He always thought it was strange that she smiled in her sleep, every time he'd ever seen her sleeping it was there. Wouldn't she have been troubled by nightmares? Wasn't that what usually happened?

His own smile refused to go away. He should have been irked. It seemed to Jay that he had taken every step, put in all the effort, in their three month relationship. All Sarah had to do was show up and enjoy it, be distracted from...whatever, take pleasure in what he was trying to do for her. This time she could not even do that.

Jay shook his head, trying to dispel that train of thought. Sarah hadn't asked him for any of it. It had been he who had called her almost directly after that night, he who made a point to come see her while he was still at home, to call her every few days after he left again, to drive an hour and a half to see her nearly every weekend.

He kept it going and she often seemed baffled by the entire situation. She really had never done anything to encourage him, but she had never told him to stop either. She was warm on the phone and they had fun on their dates. But she had never fully opened up to him, always holding herself back, just a little reserved. He still could not bring himself to stay away. He was starting to question his reason.

Sarah stirred, moving the papers slightly out from under her cheek. Jay glanced at them, wondering what she had been working on. He fingered the paper, typed with red ink corrections, but he saw sporadic smudges also, mingled red and black watermarks. He went very still as he realized. They were tear-stains, she'd been crying.

Jay put a hand to his forehead, trying to move past this stillness, this strange feeling he had when he was aware of Sarah's distress. He couldn't. Sarah had wept and he needed to know why, he needed to do something.

He shook her gently, "Wake up, beautiful." He wanted to smile at her, to make a joke about it but he couldn't. He spoke again, his only thought on the reason for her tears, "Sarah..."

Sarah floated in and out of the dream. In the ballroom, she looked away from him for only a moment, turning to the sound of his voice calling her name, and the dream shattered like so many shards of mirror. Sarah started violently but quieted as she felt familiar hands grasp her shoulders gently, "It's only me, Sarah. You're fine."

She had turned away from the ancient mismatched eyes to meet only warm pools of brown, set in the same face, framed by wire and glass. Jay looked at her with a question in those eyes and Sarah shivered. This was when he looked the most like him, when he knew that she'd been upset. Normally, in everyday life, he was there in Jay's eyes, but it was usually muted, overshadowed by his humanity. Not so now, and Sarah wondered if he was even aware of how different he looked.

Jay softly grazed his fingers over the now dried tears on her face, a graceful stillness to his movement. Sarah shut her eyes; his touch incited minute tremors up and down her spine. He was so close, but she didn't know what to do to bring him out. She wanted to cry again, she wondered if that would do the trick. His voice was soft and deeper than usual. She opened her eyes, he was there...he was so close, "What is wrong, love?"

She blinked at him. What wasn't wrong? But soon remembered...he wanted to know what she'd been crying about. She opened her mouth to answer, but stopped when he broke their gaze for a moment and shook his head slightly. He looked back at her and she despaired. He'd asked the question, he was going to get an answer...she saw him withdrawing, the magic was leaving his eyes. His hand fell from her cheek. She quickly caught it, pulling it back up. She refused to believe she'd lost her chance. Confusion and then concern filled his now too human eyes, "No," she whispered.

Jay put his free hand on her arm that had only just begun to shake. Had he done something wrong? "Are you all right, Sarah?"

He felt her forcibly still her body and let her remove herself from his grasp, watching her put a mask over her true feelings, whatever they were. She began pulling her papers together, shoving them into her bag. Her voice was quiet. They were still in the library, but somehow he felt that she wouldn't have been able to summon any more volume anyway. "I'm sorry, babe. I...I don't know what happened, I guess I was just really tired."

Jay frowned, that wasn't it. He reached for one of the remaining papers, his voice came out strange, but he didn't think about it, "That is not the reason for this." He pointed to a water-mark on the wrinkled paper.

Sarah looked at him sharply and felt a wave of guilt wash over her. The fae look had returned to his eyes, but she saw that his muscles were taut. He was fighting it, he didn't understand. She needed to stop messing with his head like that. She put her hand over his on the tear-stained paper, "I discovered today that I'm missing some research and I have to double check some facts before I can call this thing officially finished. I...ah, I have to go back to Glastonbury."

He started at that but a moment later she saw him relax. Sarah knew that Ruby had told him at least that much of what had happened to her. An idea slowly entered her head; she thought maybe it would help them both. She put a small plea in her expression. She didn't think he would be able to say no, "Will you come with me?"

Jay stared at her, too overcome with an irrational sort of joy to say anything. He hoped she couldn't tell how pleased he was by this latest turn in events. She obviously found the idea of going back there daunting at the least. But Jay still couldn't hold back a quiet smile. Sarah was asking him to come with her, to be with her, to help her.

She hesitantly returned his grin as he took her hand and answered, "Of course I will."

Just over two weeks later Sarah emerged from the dark recesses of the church library where she'd spent most of the day and adjusted her coat before stepping out of the sheltered entryway. It was chilly for April and she had dressed with comfort in mind that day, not for warmth.

The sun was setting behind the Tor but Sarah did not stop to take it in. She'd told herself she could handle being in the stacks, she'd told Jay that he didn't need to come. That didn't mean she was comfortable with the Tor, or with the trip in general.

Sarah tried to get past her dislike of the town as she walked back to the little flat she and Jay had rented for the weekend. The road and the buildings were all slightly damp, but the rain clouds had already moved from the rapidly darkening sky and she felt a warm breeze push her forward. Sarah's mood brightened a little and her step quickened as she remembered Jay was going to make her dinner, beef stew and dumplings sounded extremely good to her.

She entered the surprisingly spacious apartment and dropped her bag on the sleeper sofa. Sarah knew she'd have to move it later, there had been a silent agreement between them that Jay would sleep on it, but at the moment the aroma that was emanating from the tiny kitchenette was too good to bother with anything else.

Sarah paused at the doorway to the kitchen, leaning against it and taking in the extraordinary picture she saw before her. He stood over a cutting board, competently chopping vegetables in an almost impossibly sexy pair of jeans, faded, ripped at the knees, and hanging precariously low on his hips, exposing a strip of his bright red boxers liberally sprinkled with white hearts. He also sported a severely shrunken and over-worn lime green Kermit-the-frog t-shirt, emblazoned with the immortal words "It's not easy being green". This was admittedly a leftover from by gone years, but apparently his favorite shirt for staying in.

His glasses had fallen low on the bridge of his nose and his nearly white hair along with the decidedly juvenile attire was contradiction personified. He was at once mature and youthful, a strange mixture of the alluring and the absurd.

Sarah smiled in spite of herself. Never in all her yearning imaginings, had she envisioned that the mortal Jareth would be such an oddball.

Jay had just put the last of the vegetables in with the meat and thick broth when he looked up and saw Sarah in the doorway. He pushed his glasses up absently and began kneading the dough for the dumplings as she plopped down on one of the stools next to the counter. She greeted him with a warm smile, "Hey, babe."

He grinned back at her, his hands sunk in sticky dough and flour. Jay hoped that her good mood was not just a front, "Hey yourself. Everything go all right, love?"

Sarah shrugged and, pulling a small piece of dough from his hand, began to play with it, "It took longer than I thought it would. But I found everything I needed. No big deal." He looked up to see her smile crookedly at him and cast her eyes towards the pot behind him, "I'm kind of embarrassed I even asked come, I mean. It's not know..." She trailed off uncertainly.

Jay shook his head and snatched the dough back from her while she was looking away, "Don't worry about it. I needed a break anyway."

She glared at him through her smile, missing the occupation for her hands, rubbing the sticky residue off her fingers, "Well, it doesn't really seem to me that you're getting one. You didn't have to do this, you know. We could have gone to that tavern again...saved you the trouble."

It was his turn to shrug, "I don't mind at all, love. Besides you haven't had beef stew until you've had my mother's recipe." She smiled; satisfied it hadn't been a totally boring weekend for him.

They passed the next few minutes in silence, she pushing stray flour around the surface of the counter as he dropped the dumplings into the simmering stew. The process was repetitive and Jay let his mind wander. One of the familiar tunes came into his head and escaped through his pursed lips as he stirred the thick liquid. He let the words he knew follow it, "Hm hm hm hmm hm...deep in your eyes...a kind of pale jewel..." After a while the continuing melody started to sound strange to his ear, but he couldn't place why until he heard her fill in a measure that he'd forgotten.

Sarah's mind had also wandered far, traveling from her nearly completed dissertation towards territory she was unsure she wanted to enter. His song had brought her back, but not far enough to realize what she was doing when she joined her voice with the beloved deeply crooned melody. She let herself flow into the song, closing her eyes, surrendering to it. She loved his voice; it was exactly the same, allowing Sarah to believe, just for a moment, that he was truly with her again. But reality crashed over her when he broke it off abruptly. Sarah came fully back to herself and froze turning to him.

Jay stood stalk still over the stove top, staring at her with a dangerously desperate glint in his eye. He set aside the wooden spoon and turned off the heat with an exaggerated slowness, as if he didn't trust himself to do it any faster. He never took his eyes from her. Sarah spat a thousand curses at herself silently, how could she be so stupid?

His voice was flat, dispassionate, but a nudge would bring it to deadly, "How do you know that song?"

His eyes burned at her and she couldn't think, she didn't know what to do, "I-I, ah, I must have heard you sing it before." It was a half-truth. He would never believe it.

He moved to face her, directly across the counter. He leaned over it, his hair brushing her face as he somehow looked in her eyes and whispered in her ear at the same time. Sarah forgot how to breathe, "You're lying to me, love. I've never sung it for you. How do you know it?"

She didn't speak a word, merely staring at the rage seething in his eyes, she saw him there. She tried to think as his eyes seared straight through her own.

Sarah had not seen him angry when she was in the Labyrinth for those four days. But she remembered. He had the same stoically calm face, the same almost cold fire smoldering in his eyes, the same slowly burning intensity. This was a Fae's outrage at betrayal, this was his own suppressed resentment molded into the face of a mortal.

But she knew this was not the way. He was too angry, he wouldn't believe anything she said now and she didn't know what he would do.

He was waiting for her to answer. Sarah prayed for his eventual forgiveness before she spoke his name in a frightened whisper, "'re scaring me."

She saw the anger fall away from him as he pulled swiftly away from her. She tried to reach out to him, she couldn't bear the fear and pain in his eyes. He flinched and struck her hand away from his face, backing out of her reach, as if he no longer deserved to be touched, to be comforted.

Tears filled her eyes. She should have taken whatever violence he would have done her. Anything was better than the anguish and self-loathing she saw in his face. But before she could do or say anything else, a horribly stricken expression passed over his features as he registered her tears. He thought she was crying because of his anger.

She shook her head at him, her guilt refused to let her speak, to reassure him. He backed another step away, he was breathing hard and fast. He looked everywhere but directly at her, his voice was hoarse and broken, "Oh God...oh God, Sarah. I..." He put a trembling hand to his head, as if it pained him. He looked back to her, meeting her eyes, opening his mouth, he forced the words out, "I...I...have to go."

Sarah shook her head again, but he was no longer looking at her. Before she could move to interfere, he was out the door, not even bothering to shut it behind him. Sarah cradled her head in her arms and wept. She could only wait for him to return.

Jay leaned his forehead against the cool glass of a phone box about a minute's sprint away from the flat. His head was pounding. He tried to go through what had just happened once more.

She'd sung with him, she knew the song. How did she know it? That's all he'd wanted to know. But she wouldn't tell him...he'd been so angry. He'd never been so enraged in his entire life. It was as if she held some strange power over him, a control he couldn't shake. She knew something she did not reveal. But why wouldn't she tell him? Why would she lie?

He numbly picked up the phone, needing to talk to someone. Jay dialed Paul's number, vaguely surprised that he remembered it. He rested his head against the top of the phone's metal encasement, waiting what seemed like an eternity for his stupid brother to pick up.

Jay got the prat's machine, he yelled into it after the beep, "Fuck, Paul!" The words fell from his mouth, and he let his shaking knees give, sliding to the filthy grated floor. Jay no longer cared what he was saying, "Where the fuck are you, you sodding bastard?" A long pause, "Oh, shit. Shit, Paul. I...I don't know what's going on anymore. S-something's happening...she's...shit, I don't know what's come over me. She's...oh fuck, it's not her fault. This is me. Something's happening to me, Paul. I...I don't know..."

He trailed off, staring into the fog. It was rolling in rapidly, but he saw it as if it were moving in slow motion in and around the buildings and trees of the town. It enveloped everything in its ghostly shadow.

He knew it wasn't that late, but Jay saw no one in the street. His eyes moved back to the phone in his hand and he realized he hadn't hung it up yet. Then he realized exactly what he'd said into it, and approximately what Paul's reaction would be. He rapped his aching head hard against the glass, "Fuck."

Jay had no idea how much time had passed when he finally pulled himself to his feet. Exiting the increasingly claustrophobic box, he walked slowly, head in his hands, through the dense fog, the swirling mist, back to Sarah.

She opened the door only a second after he knocked. He'd heard her rushing over to it. But as she stood before him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears, the reason for which he was completely at a loss. He didn't attempt to come in. He couldn't bring himself to move from the doorway, to cross the threshold.

As she looked at Jay, Sarah wondered if he'd been in a fight or something. His jeans were filthy, his shirt damp with mist and sweat. But he didn't seem to be injured. He didn't open his mouth, but his haunted eyes spoke volumes and the guilt rose within her once more. The fog drifted around him from the front garden, it flowed past her, in through the open door.

She shouldn't have done it. She shouldn't have manipulated him like that. He still said nothing, and she felt the need to fill the silence. She lifted her hands, spreading her fingers entreatingly towards him, asking for forgiveness for something she knew he didn't comprehend, "I-I'm sorry..." It didn't seem like enough, "I...I'm torturing you."

A new pain filled his eyes but she didn't know what else to say. He was balanced precariously on the balls of his feet and uncertainty battled fear for supremacy in his expression. Sarah knew he was getting ready to bolt again.

She didn't know what to say. She needed him to understand, despite what she did know, she felt almost as lost as he. Her voice fell unbidden to a whisper, "I don't know what to do. I wish I knew how to make it stop."

Jay heard her words and the anger seized him once more. She knew. She knew something she wasn't telling him. But what had she told him anyway? She'd never told him anything at all.

He lifted a hand and removed his glasses. They were uncomfortably cold on his face, they chafed his skin. He found he could see fine without them. He threw them negligently past her onto the bag in the corner of the sofa. Jay slid out of the uncertain stance he'd been maintaining and into that of a predator. He felt himself do it. He saw her see him do this and, somewhere deep within him, he heard himself laugh at her rising alarm. Who was in control? Who held the power now?

Sarah's eyes widened as she saw him rise into Jay's no longer caged eyes, his nobly chiseled expression, his innately feline movements. He put two hands on the door frame and leaned towards her. She refused to back away from him, this time she would let him do as he wished.

He looked her up and down with a calculating eye, his voice came, piercing her words, slashing through her supposed ignorance, "Make it stop?" He turned his head slightly, leaning closer to her, breathing in her scent. She smelled of a wood in spring, of light and dark, mingled with fear and desire. He expelled her scent as he withdrew and spoke again. "Sarah, I am not someone to be toyed with. If you realize what you are doing, whatever it is that you are doing to me, you are able to stop it."

His close proximity and then quick removal left Sarah dizzy for a moment. She needed to be near him, but his predatorial demeanor prevented her from moving. He caught her eyes in his burning gaze and she spread her hands again. She couldn't think when he stared at her like that. His eyes ripped the words from her mouth, "I...I don't k-know what I'm s-supposed to do!"

She could tell right away that he didn't believe her. She barely saw him shift towards her and he moved so fast she couldn't evade his grip. He snatched her fingers almost painfully, shoving the long sleeve of her T-shirt up to her forearm with his other hand as she was jerked towards him. Even this minimal touch sent the dual fires of panic and lust through her body.

His eyes didn't leave her face and his hold crept up to her marred wrist as she finally tried to escape it. He threw the words at her, harsh and demanding, "Tell me about the scars, tell me about the song, tell me something."

The coolness of the fog and the warmth still lingering in the kitchen were merging at the doorway. Sarah felt at once hot and cold. She felt her resolve failing. Her flight instincts fought to take hold of her reason. She began to shake. She saw him become aware of her burgeoning fear, she saw him close his eyes as he moved to pull her closer. He was reveling in it. He was so close.

Sarah felt panic taking hold of her. She needed to get space between them, needed to find some measure of control. She took a desperate step backwards, using the force of her body to wrench her hand from him. He let go with a surprising ease that caused her to stumble backwards. She righted herself after a moment and looked up at him once more.

He almost casually stepped into the room, shutting the door with a resounding clunk. He never took his eyes off his prey, and Sarah felt cornered. She was still shaking. She didn't know what to do now. Had she ever know what she was doing?

Jay took a few more leisurely steps forward and she met each one with a backward retreat. He smiled slow and measured. They had all the time in the world. He felt a chuckle rise in his throat, finding her attempts to escape distantly amusing. Where did she think she was going to go? He had seen the two base passions in her eyes and in her body, and he knew he would have them both before the night was out.

But first he wanted the truth. He felt the words come from that same deep place inside him, "I do not know what you are thinking, Sarah. I am not within you." She visibly recoiled and he smiled. She'd cut him, he would cut her back. The truth hurts.

Sarah felt her primal instincts riding her hard. She needed to get out because of what he was doing to her, the way he was looking at her. She needed to stay and keep him there, no matter what he did, or said, no matter how he looked at her, or touched her. She found herself darting her eyes about the room, looking for a way out.

She heard him laugh. He laughed at her and whispered, "Where will you go?" as she spun wildly and rushed into the bedroom, looking for the window. His hand caught her arm and he held her about the waist, the panic engulfed her until she thought she'd faint. But she fought for consciousness, knowing he'd withdraw if she were truly harmed. She let him haul her into the air, struggling against his arms until he whirled her about fast and thrust her against the wall next to the bed. His voice could barely be heard, but Sarah's eyes grew wide in unaccountable terror while her knees grew weak as he pressed against her, "You have nowhere to go."

Sarah strained against his weight upon her and found she could not move at all. One hand held her by the wrist, like a shackle, raising her arm over her head. The other had her at the waist, pinning her hip against the cool plaster wall. His face was a breath away from hers, his brown eyes now so close they were twin oceans of black, turbulent and wild. He spoke with a dangerous softness, "How do you know the song, Sarah?"

She couldn't think for the depth of his coldly burning gaze, the heat of his hands and his body on her, the smoothly frozen wall at her back. Everywhere was ice and fire. He wanted an answer. She spoke the only truth she could remember, "I heard it in a dream..."

He chuckled mercilessly, bringing his searing lips to her forehead, shaking his head in deceptively calm denial. He did not believe her. "No, no, my Sarah, I heard it in a dream. You heard it somewhere else," he crooned to her and she bit back a whimper...or would it have been a moan?

He released her wrist and her arm it fell lifelessly to her side, she did not have the energy or the desire to even put up the pretense of fighting him any longer. He pulled his hand into her hair, cupping the base of her neck with an unyielding palm. She felt like dough in his hands, she could have melted into the wall, dripped through his fingers. His eyes met hers again and she drowned in them, "Tell me where you heard it, Sarah."

She opened her mouth. He wanted an answer, but she had none for him. She couldn't think, she couldn't remember anymore. His hand moved from her hip to her thigh in a brutal caress, the other clamped tighter about her neck and she went rigid in his arms. Panic seized her and her mind flashed the vision of a forest and sunlight, he had held her there too. He forced the response from her and it came in short gasps, "I...I heard it...while...when I was...gone...missing."

This was not enough of an answer for him. "Gone...missing..." he echoed mockingly, bringing his mouth to her ear, softly pressing his cheek to hers, "That is all you ever say. Why must you hide the truth?" He shifted still closer to her, his hand slipped to her inner thigh and she gasped. His voice had grown hard, edged with menace, "Where were you, Sarah?"

Each word traveled to her on his breath, made hot by his anger and impatience with her. Sarah's eyes rolled and she trembled violently with the warring sensations of sensual pleasure and a very mortal, very primitive fear.

She felt her tenuous hold on her reason slip through her fingers. She was no longer certain he would not harm her, and she no longer cared what he thought after that night. She would answer his question and be done with it. She didn't know what else to do.

She turned her panic driven gaze back to his all consuming eyes and grinned. Hysterical relief flooded through her and she laughed breathlessly as she finally told him, "I was with you."

At her strange admission he went completely still. She felt him realize exactly what he was doing to her, she felt his fury quail, she felt him grasp desperately at his humanity. He abruptly released her, backing away.

He pushed himself away from her. What was he doing? Why should he wish to hold Sarah thus, to keep her, to possess...he denied his mind those thoughts. He looked down at his hands, they didn't feel like his own, numb and too loose. His mind didn't feel like his own, distant and too wild.

A moan came to his ears and he swiftly lifted his gaze to see Sarah slide limply from the wall. She fell sideways against the bed, her back scraped painfully against the bedside table. She cried out hoarsely and he flinched. What had he done to her? He thought of what she had made no sense, yet it pulled at him, yearning for him to understand. What was she doing to him?

He lifted a hand, he wanted to help her. But as he moved to go to her, his eyes darted as the loose collar of her soft cotton shirt fell to one side, exposing to the moonlight the smooth flesh of her perfect shoulder. Feeling a desire he dared not name well up inside him, he knew if he was near her, he would not be restrained. It would overtake him. He would stay where he was, rather than lose himself again. What was she doing to him?

She saw his hand fall in a tightly closed fist and a visible shudder ran through him. He had kept the graceful stillness in his limbs and his eyes had regained their glaring coldness, but there was a slight waver to his gaze. It betrayed his fear.

Sarah's heart went to him as she clawed her aching body onto the bed. He didn't understand. She pulled herself up to sit on her knees, leaning on her still shaking forearms. She lifted her face and met his eyes.

They were dark and hooded and Sarah felt a stab of regret. He did not understand and he would believe she was raving. He opened his mouth, searching for words. They came out accusatory but haltingly so, as if he didn't really know what he was saying, but felt compelled to speak "You're insane. Y-you are...doing something to me...I are changing me into something I don't recognize..."

As he spoke the words, uncertainty and fear came to rule his expression once more and Sarah knew it was the time to act. She sat up slowly, eyeing him coyly as she lifted her shirt over her head and tossed it away. She shook her long hair loose and gathered it to spill over one shoulder and down past her bra.

Sarah climbed leisurely over the end of the bed and set her feet softly on the ground. She stood before him and deftly untied the string of her pajama bottoms, letting them fall smoothly to the ground. She stepped lightly away and into the reach of his arms, clad only in her underwear. He stared at her like a rare, cornered beast, his dual natures battling. One part of him was afraid to face her, but the other was unwilling to back down.

He needed comfort and she would give it to him. She knew now she could not force him out, not with words, not with actions. But she could lure him, she could reach for him and she knew he would take her hand. She remembered the feel of his hands, the weight of his anger, the pain. She looked into his wary eyes. The possibility was there, but she would do what she must, any price, she would pay it.

She cast her eyes towards the floor as she approached him slowly, as submissively as possible, enticing the predator. Her fear had gone and all that remained was the pleasure he had earlier kindled in her. Neither of them had come away satisfied. She knew she would not shrink from him this time. She stepped up to him and he wavered, as if he were dizzy. She heard him take in her scent and she did the same. He smelled of heady spices and down, he smelled of thinly disguised lust.

Sarah looked up at him through her lashes and placed her hand lightly on his chest. He quivered at her touch and she smiled prettily, raising her other hand up to his shirt collar. Her hand on his chest slid down, caressing his abdomen and pulling at his t-shirt. He only leaned into her touch, saying nothing, his trembling hands did not encourage, nor did they prevent her.

She stood on her toes, raising her lips to his ear, and whispered simply, "Lift your arms." He drew in a sharp breath and a moment later he complied. Looking down upon her as his shirt fell at their feet, she saw his eyes were dazed yet he still did not move to touch her.

Sarah let her right hand fumble playfully at the waistband of his jeans as she drew his head down to kiss his slightly open mouth. She played on his teeth with her tongue and yet he still did not respond.

She finally awakened him as she abandoned his zipper and pulled her other hand to his face, tugging on his ear and biting his lip hard to she deepen the kiss. His arms came roughly about her, tangling in her hair and sweeping down her back. She broke the kiss when his hold loosened slightly and looked into the wild and dark pools of his eyes, he was so close.

He remembered the dreams as he held her, as she held him. He looked into her eyes and he saw, "You have her eyes...the the hedgerows...I...dreamed..." His voice felt broken.

He was struggling to make it logical, mortal. But Sarah felt deep within her that it was not. She lifted a hand to caress his cheek, to stroke his moonlit hair "Shhh, it's all right." She kissed him chastely on the side of his mouth, leaning towards his ear, whispering, "Let go."

She breathed it into his ear and he felt the command echo entreatingly inside his head. Something shifted with in him. She kissed him again, but broke it quickly, holding her slightly parted lips only just away from his own. She was drawing him towards the bed and he could no longer refuse her. He no longer wanted to refuse her.

Her hedgerow eyes danced slow and enticing as he heard the whispered entreaty again, "Let go, my love."

The moonlight and the mists seemed to intensify, filling his vision until he could see only her eyes. His hands found her lithe body and he lifted her onto the bed. He heard his voice as if from a great distance as he spoke against her sighing lips, "Yes."

Jay stared out the large windows next to the bed, fixing his eyes upon the darkly looming rise that was the Tor and realizing that he'd just done something very, very bad, something completely and utterly appallingly inexcusable. He'd emotionally and sexually taken advantage of an insane woman.

Sarah thought that he was someone else. He was sure of that now. She had said that she'd been with him. It physically sickened Jay to think that she most probably believed him to be the man who had done those horrible things to her. Sarah was not only a "fucking mess", as Paul had put it, she was mentally ill. And he had perpetuated her illness, he had given her the means to cling to her experience in ways that she should not have. He felt awful.

And yet...he wondered if...faced with the choice again, he still might not have been able to stop himself. Jay felt a wave of self-loathing crash upon him. He staggered, grasping the window sill with a force that made the wood creak.

He knew he would not have been able to stop. He tried to remember how...his thoughts came up against thick and swirling mists. But he could catch glimpses through the haze, he remembered her body, he remembered her voice, and he remembered speaking words he didn't understand as the moment had come over them both. He had lived that time, it had been him with her, but it was almost as if he had not been in control.

There was something about her...something he had not yet grasped. The last thing he remembered clearly was her soft entreaty and his surrender to it. He would not have been able to stop, he had no idea how it had even begun. His thoughts turned to their earlier strange argument. How he had acted, he was disgusted with himself...maybe he was the one who was insane, or maybe she had driven him to it. But why did she hold such power over him?

He should get out while he still could...or could he, even at this point? Jay looked back to her, sleeping peacefully...contentedly in the bed. The moonlight shone on her skin and the strewn aside sheets, giving them both a hauntingly beautiful glow, a familiar glow. Jay blinked at the image and shook his head, trying to dislodge it from his brain. He saw her stir, his eyes moving across her and up to meet her sleep glazed eyes.

Sarah's thoughts were hazy. The bed was warm, but he was no longer in it. He was supposed to be there. She looked up; he was standing at the window, leaning against the sill, his eyes fixed upon her, motionless. The moonlight made him seem a statue, a Greek god set in alabaster. She smiled at him, he was so beautiful, she spoke without thought, "Come away from the window, Jareth."

The ever-shifting element within Jay swung once more and slid into its place, it was a key, it fit and it turned. The name...the name...she had spoken it. She had struck the chord in his soul with a slip of her exhausted tongue. She had said the name and this time he was not dreaming, he had heard her. The echo reverberated through him, his muscles, his organs, his entire body sang with it. The key opened a door that he'd never known existed.

Knowledge and memories entered his mind faster than he could register them. His years in the court tore painfully at him as he witnessed the tragedy of his mother's losing battle and finally her fall. He relived the consuming hopelessness of his rejection of the Teind and his exile, the gnawing loneliness of his solitary rule, the terrifyingly frozen gaze of the Shadow Queen all in an instant.

And then Sarah burst into his battered mind with a blazing radiance, a painful ecstasy. She was seared into his vision...the innocent in the park, reciting lines from a fairy tale...the child player of his game, caught up in dreams only half of her own making, the other half, his...the woman victor, left with nothing but a search, caught up in an unknown, darker than she could comprehend...the half-starved waif, tortured almost beyond recognition, bloodied and scarred in mind and body...the recovering ethereal beauty, strength under frailty, steel behind mournful eyes...the love of his soul, his reason to endure, his salvation, his life, his home.

Sarah had said something to him, but she couldn't remember what it was. She'd been so tired. But almost as soon as she spoke a gasp and a cry had escaped from his throat and she saw his legs give under his weight.

He may have hit something against the window sill for she heard a sickening crack, but he did not cradle anything as he fell. He just writhed there. He did not make a sound, but she thought his mouth was open in a silent scream. She forced herself to cease watching him in dumb horror and climbed from the bed, crawling over to him and trying to ease the obvious pain he was in. She wished fervently that she could remember what she had said, hadn't it been something about coming back to the bed?

He struggled with this inner conflict for minutes more and they stretched long in Sarah's perception. She began to call his name, alarm rising when he seemed insensible to her efforts. She'd repeated his name for so long it had become a mantra, "Jay...Jay...Jay...Jay..." It did not occur to her to call anything else.

Suddenly he went completely still, so motionless that she began to fear that he'd somehow died. But a moment later he stirred, almost languidly. His eyes opened; what had before been wild and turbulent were now blessedly tranquil. Sarah caught her breath; she thought she saw...a captivated recognition in his gaze that had not been there before.

He lifted his eyes to her slowly, savoring each moment he beheld her. She was bent over him, concerned terror written on her beautiful face, her hands clutching his shoulders tightly. He had fallen to the floor and she had been calling his mortal name for sometime.

He looked into her eyes. Her eyes, oh, her eyes had stayed with him, had haunted him in all his dreams. He lost and found himself again in her hedgerow eyes and spoke, "Sarah."

He said her name as if he'd been waiting to speak it for centuries, unlike he had ever said it before and tears came to Sarah's eyes. She lifted a hand from his shoulder to tentatively graze his cheek, her mind not yet believing what her heart was screaming to her. He leaned into her warm palm, releasing an almost inaudible sigh. She smiled, causing the welling tears to spill down her face. They were tears of happiness, of incomparable joy. He was there.

He lifted both hands to softly brush away her happy tears, whispering a simple request, "Say it again, my love. Say my name again."

"Oh, Jareth..." She rested her forehead against his own as he brought his arms around her, pulling her closer to him. Relief was rich in her voice, free of the weight of months of fear and uncertainty, but her tears had not yet ceased, "Promise me, my love...Jareth, just promise me that you won't leave me alone again..."

Jay looked at Sarah's struggle over the past months with new eyes. Jareth remembered all he needed to understand. He was complete, himself, and yet he was more than he had ever been.

He wove his hands into her silken tresses, and her tears fell to his own cheeks. He kissed her softly twice, once on her lips and again on her brow to soothe her trembling. He murmured as she clung to him, "I have just lived a thousand years in the blink of an eye. For this moment, my love, I would live it all again a thousand times over...I will never leave you, Sarah."

The Way Forward

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 4 of 5

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